The traditional classification of the ligulid tapeworms into 2 genera, Ligula Bloch, 1782 and Digramma Cholodkovsky, 1914, remains controversial. Molecular data of sequences for the 5′ end of the nuclear 28S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) gene, the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene, and the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide dehydrogenase subunit 1 (ND1) gene, as well as the first internal transcribed spacer (ITS1) of the nuclear ribosomal deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), were used to characterize Digramma and to investigate its relationship with Ligula. Digramma spp. exhibited identical sequences with Ligula intestinalis both in the 28S rRNA and the COI gene and differed from L. intestinalis by 0.7% in the ITS1 region and 7.4% in the ND1 gene, respectively. A high degree of genetic conservation within 28S ribosomal DNA, COI, ITS1, and even ND1 genes, was found in Ligula and Digramma. The low genetic divergence in the 4 genes between Ligula and Digramma indicates that Digramma is probably not an independent genus. Therefore, it is proposed that Ligula and Digramma should be considered as 2 species within the genus Ligula and the tapeworms of Digramma collected from diverse localities in China belong to the same species. The present study also suggests that ITS1 and ND1 sequences can act as useful genetic markers to distinguish Ligula and Digramma.

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